Early. Too early, I wasn’t ready. I scooped Abby out of bed and put her right into her carseat in the car that I had already warmed up. She fell right back asleep as we made our trek to the hospital. I was alone. I wasn’t planning on being alone, but because of a scheduling error, her surgery was one day sooner than we had expected, and my sister would not be here until after it was over. As an added bonus, my brother decided to come in to help as well. But both would not be there until later, and because mornings with Casey are unpredictable, Lance had to stay back to get the boys off to school.
At the hospital, I changed Abby into some adorable scrubs we were ushered into the waiting area where a wall of toys awaited my smiling toddler. We crashed cars and sang songs as the different doctors from the different specialties came in and out, asked all of the same questions, got all of the same answers. Her ENT came in and crawled right down on the floor with Abby in his continued effort to win her over. I call him “Dr. Doogie” because he looks super young. But what he may lack in years, he makes up with in knowledge and personality. He played with Abby for a minute as he explained all of the procedures again. As he spoke, the nurse fitted me in all of the hospital garb so I could take her back to the operating room and stay with her until she was asleep.
We walked down together, Abby in my arms. I sat with her in the warm operating room while several nurses, the anesthesiologist, the audiologist and the ENT danced about getting things ready. Before I was ready, a nurse came back from behind me and gently placed the mask on Abby. Her tiny body clenched up a bit for a second, and then she nuzzled down into me. I sang her favorite song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as she drifted off to sleep. Before I was ready, they scooped her from my arms and laid her out on the table. They allowed me one last kiss and then, before I was ready, the nurse, holding her arm around me, ushered me out of the room.
No one is ever ready to leave their child to a team of doctors for any procedure, I don’t think.
Gone are the days of holding back the emotion when it comes to my little girl. Gone are the days that I would worry what people think if I lost it in front of them. My baby. My tiny, still baby. The tears fell openly and the nurse squeezed me tighter as she led me to the waiting room.
Lance arrived about an hour later with some breakfast I could not swallow because the anxiety had produced a large lump in my throat. Shortly after, the audiologist came and got us. The tubes were in, the fluid was drained, the sedated ABR was preformed. I knew the news before she told us from the look on her face: her hearing loss had not improved. It’s permanent. We discussed hearing aids and she gave us her personal phone number if we had any questions.
Another hour later and Dr. Doogie came and got us. Abby had done well in her surgery, but things weren’t as he had hoped. She has tracheomalacia and bronchiomalacia. Basically, her airways are floppy and malformed. Those aren’t severe and should improve with time, but also explain why when she gets a respiratory infection it is much worse for her than other kids. She also has some issue with the area (carina) that separates the two main pipes into her lungs (bronchi). It’s flat and underdeveloped. Not sure what that means, but like the other dinosaur-termed issues she has, he said it should get better with time. Lastly, she has a laryngeal cleft. This will need to be operated on in the near future (no idea when) and should help her to not aspirate fluids anymore.
Shortly after we spoke to the young doctor, we were taken back to see Abby. The nurse let me pick her up as soon as I had scrubbed my hands, and there she stayed for the next several hours.
Tomorrow, her recovery story.